leafy greens

The Reasons Why People Are Choosing A Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Kale

If you are like us, you might be a little confused at what you can and can't eat these days. Is there a healthier way to eat and live? Are there tangible benefits to living a certain lifestyle? In 2018 we are going to explore these questions, specifically as it relates to gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian lifestyles, and provide recipes that you can use for each of them. Let's dive into our first topic: gluten-free.

(Exclusive gluten-free recipes at the bottom of the post!)

The basics

Gluten-free is one of the trendiest lifestyles and dietary changes being made currently. You cannot go into a grocery store or a restaurant now that doesn't have a gluten-free section or offering in the aisle or menu, respectively. So why is it so popular? 

First, we need to know the answer to the question: what is gluten? According to the Mayo Clinic, gluten is protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and a hybrid of wheat and rye called triticale. Essentially, gluten gives dough its elasticity and helps hold it together while it is being made. Now that we know what gluten is we can move onto the next pressing question: why is it bad for some people?

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The bad

Our bodies’ immune systems function something like this: recognize the difference between what belongs and what is foreign, then attack the foreign. However, many people suffer from autoimmune diseases. One such autoimmune disease is "celiac disease" (CD), caused by consuming gluten. Advocacy group Beyond Celiac states that about 1% of the US population has celiac disease. 

"Celiac disease is a condition in which gluten triggers immune system activity that damages the lining of the small intestine. Over time this damage prevents the absorption of nutrients from food." -- Mayo Clinic Staff

Clearly, people that suffer from celiac disease need to avoid gluten. However, what about people that do not have celiac disease? Why are they opting for gluten-free?

Gluten Intolerance vs. Gluten Sensitivity vs. Wheat Allergy

The Gluten Intolerance Group explain the three most common diagnoses and what they each mean. Gluten intolerance is diagnosed as celiac disease. The only way to treat celiac disease is to practice a 100% gluten-free diet. Gluten sensitivity, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), is hard to diagnose as it shares many of the same characteristics of celiac disease and there is no true test developed yet. The only way to identify it is to rule out an autoimmune reaction and a wheat allergy. Finally, a wheat allergy is specific to a rejection of a protein found in wheat, but other gluten from non-wheat sources is okay to eat.

What foods can I eat if I am gluten intolerant or have a gluten sensitivity?

Several different organizations list the foods that you can and cannot eat. We will assemble the highlights here, but if you have a gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, you need to do comprehensive research as well as consult with your doctor on an appropriate diet.

  1. Allowed fresh foods
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed forms
  • Eggs
  • Lean, nonprocessed meats, fish and poultry
  • Most low-fat dairy products
  1. Avoid all food and drinks that contain the following
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Oats (in some cases)

(From the Mayo Clinic Staff)

Gluten-free alternatives

(From Beyond Celiac)


Another great source for information and recipes is The Gluten-Free Goddess' blog. Karina Allrich writes about what she knows from her own life experience, shares practical ways to live gluten-free, and many tasty recipes.

I am not Gluten Sensitive but I think going gluten-free will improve my health

This is a hot topic right now, as an increasing rate of people who do not have a gluten intolerance are opting to go gluten-free. Among the biggest drivers is a growing suspicion on the potential adverse health affects of consuming gluten. If you do believe that you are suffering from a gluten intolerance, you should consult with a doctor and be tested. Always consult with a medical professional before making significant lifestyle changes. 

Adding fruits and veggies to your meals on a gluten-free diet

As you may know, fruits and veggies are really good for you. They have amazing nutritional properties that our body systems need daily to function. Another great thing about produce: its naturally gluten-free. Regardless of the lifestyle you choose to live, it's probably a good idea to keep fresh fruits and vegetables as a fixture in your diet.

White Bean Kale Cauliflower Casserole

White Bean Kale Cauliflower Casserole

Let's face it. It can be a challenge to get our friends or family to get on the gluten-free train with us. However, serve this delicious recipe from registered dietitian and best-selling author, Cynthia Sass, and your loved ones will be clamoring for more yummy dishes from you! Featuring fresh kale, cauliflower, lemon juice + zest, tahini, and white beans. Estimated prep + bake time is 35 minutes.

Pinto Bean and Collard Omelet

Pinto Bean and Collard Omelet

A Tex-Mex omelet recipe from Cynthia Sass, RD and best-selling author, is full of that southwest flavor you crave. The best part? When you make this for breakfast or brinner ( breakfast for dinner), you are giving your body an excellent source of protein. Also, those veggies aren't in their just for their color. The nutrients found between those veggies will add a healthy portion to your daily needs, and give your body the tools it needs to support itself.

Let's Get Together!

For many people fall is the start of an indulgent eating season that begins with Halloween treats, and continues straight through New Year’s Eve. But autumn is also a perfect time to take advantage of the abundance of healthy fare that makes this season special. A few of my favorites are apples, pumpkins, and greens.

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

Fresh, seasonal chopped apples can be whipped into a smoothie, or added to cinnamon oatmeal. Stir finely chopped apples into pancake batter, enjoy them sliced, dipped into almond butter, or sauté apples in lemon water, along with ginger, topped with a crumble made from oats, almond butter, maple syrup, and apple pie spice. Fresh sliced apples make a delicious addition to entrée salads, cooked cabbage, and stir frys. Shredded apple can also be folded into burger patties or meatloaf recipes. And for a healthy treat, try my recipe for kale and raisin stuffed slow cooker apples

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

After carving a fresh pumpkin, the roasted seeds make a healthy snack, or topping for cooked veggies, salads, fish, beans, and lentils. Fresh roasted pumpkin flesh, seasoned with coconut oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice, also makes a nutritious, satisfying side dish. And unsweetened canned pumpkin makes a perfect addition to smoothies, oatmeal, hummus, or chili.     

Greens, a year round superfood, come to life in all new ways this season. Try my recipe for super green party dip, and a variety of fresh and cooked dishes, from coconut collard crisps, to lentil, yam and kale stew, and salmon mustard greens salad. Give your green smoothie some fall flare by blending kale with ingredients like ripe pear, ginger, and maple syrup.

Source: WP Rawl

Source: WP Rawl

Make healthy eating a priority this fall, and you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite can’t-live-without splurges, without compromising your health or packing on any unwanted seasonal pounds.

Traveling Greens: Helpful Tips to Store Green Meals on the Go

Ever feel like your snacks while traveling are just plain old junk?  With summer approaching, we look ahead at convenient ways to store greens on-the-go.  Out with the chips and in with the green.  Keep your nutrition on point while out and about and you won’t miss a beat.  Here are five ways to bring your greens with you:

 

1.       Make your green meals ahead of time and put them in a storage container.  Here is a great salad to make for your next travel day that will get you on the Mason jar trend!

 

2.      Double your batch of smoothies to store as a good morning or afternoon snack.  Put it in the freezer at work for those 3 pm hunger pangs or in a cooler in your car.  Find our many smoothie recipes here!

3. Got a flight to catch?  Worried about eating peanuts, pretzels, and snack boxes?  Try packing good-for-you snacks for your flight that will keep you energized and your nutrition in shape.  Slice up some goodies that can last outside of the refrigerator like bell peppers, cucumbers, or fresh fruit.  Almonds and kale chips are also a good option.  Pack them in your carry-on and enjoy your flight.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/xlibber/4676723312

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/xlibber/4676723312

4. Going to the beach or park?  Pack your cooler with tasty and healthy summer treats.  Opt for fresh fruit and chilled lean proteins.  You can even make this easy salad ahead of time to keep in the cooler.

5. Whether you are prepping for the work week or your meals for a trip, this is the most effective way to keep your nutrition on point.  Check out companies like Fuel Food for inspiration on how to make and what to put in your meal kit.  We've made it easy for you to prep your meals.  Just follow the steps below! 

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Spring into Action: 3 Ways to Lose Weight and Keep the Pounds Off

Spring into Action: 3 Ways to Lose Weight and Keep the Pounds Off

We searched and navigated our way through the best tried and true tips from the pros – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – to bring you information from the nutrition experts including our very own partner and registered dietician, Cynthia Sass.